'Two Kevin McCarthys' Lincoln Project Video Tops 300K Views

A new Lincoln Project ad claiming there are "two Kevin McCarthy's" has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times after the House Minority leader was accused of lying in a leaked audio recording.

McCarthy, a California Republican, was heard telling fellow lawmakers last year that former President Donald Trump was to blame for the January 6, 2021, riot on the U.S. Capitol and that he should resign from office. The leaked audio was released last week, and shows a different side of McCarthy's opinion on Trump than what he portrayed to the public at the time.

The Lincoln Project, which is an anti-Trump Republican PAC, pounced on the leak, tweeting Thursday that there are "two Kevin McCarthy's. Kevin on the phone, and Kevin in person. Neither will be Speaker of the House."

The group's latest video highlights segments from the leaked audio conversation between McCarthy and Republican Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney on January 10, 2021.

The video begins with a clip of McCarthy claiming that he "never" thought that Trump should resign from office and that he never asked him to.

"Kevin McCarthy doesn't think Trump's supporters and MAGA Republicans are stupid; he knows it," the ad states. "He's been fooling them all, laughing at them. Kevin tells rich liberal RINO (Republicans in name only) mega-donors he needs their money so he can block Donald Trump's candidates. But this week, he was caught promising Liz Cheney he'd tell Donald Trump to resign."

The ad then cuts to the audio recording, in which McCarthy says that he's "seriously" considering telling the former president to resign that night. "Let me be very clear to all of you, and I've been very clear to the president. He bears responsibility for his words and actions. No if, ands, or buts," he adds.

Kevin McCarthy
U.S. House Minority Leader Representative Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, has been accused of lying in a new Lincoln Project ad. Above, McCarthy speaks on December 5, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

By Saturday morning, the ad had been viewed on Twitter more than 308,000 times. It also ran as a TV spot on Fox News in Palm Beach County, Florida, where Trump's Mar-a-Lago home is located.

"Kevin McCarthy lied to reporters about not wanting Donald Trump to resign and Kevin's lying now about supporting Trump," Reed Galen, co-founder of the Lincoln Project, said in a statement on its website. "Kevin is lying to his donors to keep the money flowing and he's betting that Trump's a sucker who'll buy his excuses.

The audio recording has also drawn condemnation form other Republican groups. Earlier this week, the Republican Accountability Project (RAP), another anti-Trump conservative group, posted billboard ads in McCarthy's California district urging him to "stop lying."

"We're calling out Kevin McCarthy for his lies about January 6. In private, Kevin McCarthy spoke about Donald Trump's conduct on January 6 as 'atrocious and totally wrong'...yet, weeks later McCarthy was visiting Trump at Mar-A-Lago and signaling support for the former president," a spokesperson for RAP told Newsweek.

The leaked audio was initially reported on last week by The New York Times. Ahead of its release, McCarthy said that the outlet's reporting was "totally false and wrong." Once the recording was made public, he then told Fox News that he "never told the president to resign," and that the audio simply marked "a conversation that we had about scenarios going forward."

Some Republican lawmakers have since defended the House minority leader. He reportedly received a standing ovation from colleagues after defending himself during a House GOP conference meeting this week.

Newsweek contacted McCarthy's office for additional comment.